Non-melanoma skin cancer—a term used to describe basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)—affects more than 3.3 million people each year in the United States. BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, with more than four million new cases each year, and SCC is the second most common, with upwards of one million diagnoses. Like melanoma, the vast majority of non-melanoma skin cancer is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, so it most often occurs on areas that have been directly exposed, such as the head, face, neck, back and shoulders.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, 40 to 50 percent of Americans that live to age 65 will have BCC or SCC at least once in their lifetime. Given the frequency and severity of these cancers, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms in order to begin treatment as early as possible.
One common early sign of BCC is a persistent sore that doesn’t seem to heal. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that the sore often “bleeds, oozes, or crusts and remains open for a few weeks, only to heal up and then bleed again.”
As two or more of symptoms may be present in one tumor, a person may also experience a reddish patch or irritated area. For some the patch may crust, causing it to be a source of itchiness or pain. The patches are most common on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs.